KENYA – Farmers contracted by Kenya Seed Company (KSC) to plant maize seeds in Marigat, Baringo county are counting losses as floods hit the Perkerra irrigation system destroying their farms.

While the majority of farmers celebrated the onset of the rains and expected a bumper harvest, the floods have swept away crops in their farms.

The Perkerra irrigation system considered the region’s granary, was severely damaged after the Molo, Perkerra and Weseges rivers burst their banks, sweeping away hundreds of hectares of maize crops planted by contract farmers.

The entire scheme was swept away by the flood water. We have lost around KES 30 million,” Alvine Lenaiweti, Murda Irrigation Scheme farmers Secretary said.

According to him, the scheme had planted more than 400 acres of land but it was swept by floods. He noted that at least 210 farmers along River Perkerra have been affected.

Lenaiweti revealed that KSC usually gives them the seeds to plant and farmers cater for tilling, planting and fertiliser costs.

He explained that after harvesting, KSC deducts the cost of the seeds given to individual farmers and pays them for the extra supplies.

Lenaiweti called on the government to come to their aid saying farmers were staring at hard times as some took loans to invest in their farms.

In a normal year, they usually produce a maximum of 600 tonnes of seed maize which is packaged and distributed for sale to farmers.

The irrigation scheme is the backbone of the local economy, as many residents earn their income from farming activities.

The entire Marigat depends on irrigation, families work in the farms to earn a living. This is a big loss,” farmers lamented.

This comes at a time when the East African region is staring at a looming food shortage after heavier-than-usual rains, compounded by the El Nino weather phenomenon, have devastated the nations, threatening agriculture, transport and health systems.

Kenya has especially been battered in the past month, with the executives considering announcing the flood a state of emergency.  

Food crisis looms as farmers warn of poor harvests

Farmers predict the cost of food is headed for the skies and will balloon in the coming months as a result of the wave of destruction and huge losses on investments.

So bad is the situation that in some irrigation schemes, infrastructures like dykes and water canals have been destroyed.

In the Mount Kenya region, farmers are struggling to come to terms with the massive losses, barely weeks after some of the replanted seeds had fallen victim to fake fertilizers.

In the Mwea Irrigation scheme, rice farms have disappeared under water.

The most affected areas of the scheme are Cumbiri, Thiba and Jambo villa where rice paddies have been destroyed.

According to Pius Njogu, a former Mwea rice mill Chairman, approximately 2,000 acres of rice plantation have been destroyed.

Njogu said the paddies were destroyed after River Thiba, which channels water for irrigation to the farms, burst its banks flowing into the plantations.

He said with each acre producing 15 bags of 90 kilogrammes of rice, the farmers concerned will have nothing to harvest.

In Kisumu, farmers in Ahero are counting losses after floods swept off over 800 acres of rice plantations.

Kennedy Ouma, the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) Scheme Manager says all the farms have been washed away by the raging flood waters, noting that the authority is carrying out assessments to evaluate the extent of the damage but says the expected bumper harvest by the farmers has now been dealt a blow.

He adds that the incident is likely to deal a blow to efforts by the national government to ensure there is proper food security in the county.


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